09 April 2011

Birthday Cupcakes. And holy smokes, I'm turning 30!!

Hi guys, it's almost my birthday!  It's going to be a big one.  I've managed to live (read as: not die) for 30 whole years.  If you knew about all the stupid things I did in my 20's, you'd realise this was no small feat.  Celebrations abound!

Honestly though, why do people freak out over turning 30? This is amazing!

My 20's were an adventure. I had about a million different jobs - including spin class instructor, bartender, and music-business intern. I lived in 5 different cities in 3 different countries. I've made friends and lost them. I'm on my 3rd career. I partied like a rock star (and sometimes with them). I got a tattoo. I figured myself out. I loved like mad, my heart was broken a few times, and I grew up. It was hard. It was amazing. And I am so very glad it's over with. I definitely don't want to extend my 20's; I don't want to be forever turning 29. I want more birthdays. I want more life to sink my teeth into.

I am currently happier than I've ever been in my life.  I'm doing science, I'm working on my PhD, and I moved to the UK to do it: possibly the most far-fetched goal I could have dreamt up for myself.  Every day greets me with a sense of accomplishment when I realise where I live and what I do on a daily basis.  I've got my shit together.  I have great friends.  It's not all gravy, but I can deal.  Life is better than it's ever been.  It's enough to make a formerly too-cool-to-be-happy version of myself (o hai, 22-year-old-me) positively disgusted.

Who's freaking out about 30?  Not me, no sir.  

I lived, and it was ridiculously awesome.  Who says it has to end at 30?  I mean, I've got all the crap out of the way, now I can sit back and enjoy myself.  So, what'cha got for me, 30?  I'll take all you can dish.

Because it's now officially my birthday week, I am sharing cupcakes with you.  Buttery, fluffy, perfect cupcakes, with icing that tastes like marshmallows.  (Did you know that real marshmallows aren't vegetarian? It's a total bummer.)  So, tuck in, enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!  Maybe you don't care about my sickening happiness.  Consider this my peace offering.

Perfect Birthday Cupcakes
While I fundamentally disagree with the concept of cupcakes for one's birthday (cakes should be big and layered, guys!), I'll make an exception here.  This is actually a cake recipe, after all, which I just poured into cupcake tins instead.  Original recipe found at Smitten Kitchen.

480g (4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) cake flour (AP works just fine, too)
2 teaspoons baking powder (bicarb)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
225g (2 sticks or 1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
450g (2 cups) sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
475 ml (2 cups) buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, or fill lined cupcake tins about 2/3 full.  Rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes for cake, 12-15 minutes for cupcakes (depending on your oven.. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely.

7-Minute Icing
A word of warning: cakes should be iced within a couple hours of serving -- if left much longer than that, the icing will begin to harden.  I left one out overnight like a dummy and woke up to a rock-hard mass atop a (still-yummy) cupcake.  Original recipe is by Paula Deen.

3670g (3 cups) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar or 2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
160ml (2/3 cup) water
4 egg whites
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla and remove from heat; leave to cool (this will happen faster than you think it will).

Pipe onto cupcakes with a large star tip, if you want them to look like mine do. :)


  1. Looks beautiful! Just found your blog and you take amazing pictures. Take a look at mine when you get the chance: http://theaddictedbaker.blogspot.com/

  2. you are a youngster! enjoy the cupcakes - eat two!

  3. beautiful! I have been looking for a good no butter frosting recipe!

  4. "fundamentally disagree with cupcakes for one's birthday" **gasp** :) i love the (extra large) bite size cupcakes....nothing like opening your jaw so wide it almost disconnects just so you can get some icing and cake in the same bite. seriously though, your cupcakes look very cute :) enjoy your birthday.

  5. Thanks guys!! You are all so nice, it makes me very happy! :)

  6. These look gorgeous! I love how light and fluffy they look! And perfect to try when my vegetarian bff visits as I always forget marshmallow is off limits! :) Hope you had a great birthday, by the way!